National Urban Policy
In Czechia, national urban policy constitutes an integral part of regional development and policy. Act 248/2000 Coll. on Regional Development Support stipulates general provisions for regional development which encompasses the urban dimension. For its implementation, Czech national urban policy rests on six main strains, approaches and tools: the Principles of Urban Policy (PUP); the Regional Development Strategy (RDS); the Urban Agenda for the EU (UAEU); URBACT; integrated planning instruments; and the Smart Cities concept.
The framework document Principles of Urban Policy defines state policy on urban matters as being cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary. It serves as a summary of recommendations for urban development in Czechia, providing guidelines for our self-governing regions and cities. The Regional Development Strategy, which is regularly updated, determines key territorial objectives aligning local development to national priorities. It explains how the PUP is implemented, assessed and revised. The remaining four reference tools are European-level instruments used by Czechia in a complementary manner. They bring added-value to the more generic nature of PUP and RDS, thus offering cities and regions a widened spectrum of options on how to pursue sustainable urban development.
In relation to urbanisation processes, metropolitan areas and agglomerations tend to concentrate higher-order functions, with the capital playing an important political role for multi-level governance. On the other hand, in rural areas, mid- and small-sized urban centres play a key role in stabilising the demographic makeup of the national population. The aspired mode for urban development in Czechia is polycentric, inclusive, and equity-oriented.
Future Developments of Urban Policies
At present, Czech cities face a number of issues which are demographic, economic and social in nature, and are closely linked with sectors such as transport, housing, infrastructure and the environment. They are largely determined by inadequate public administration.
Thus, for the near future the Ministry envisages more dynamic and balanced urban development processes striving for an improved quality of life for all, regardless of size and geographical location of a particular town or city. As elsewhere in the world, urban policies should contribute to the reduction of regional disparities and unlock local potential(s).
Current approaches aimed at the sustainable development of Czech cities include the use of integrated instruments such as community-led local development (CLLD). Yet, a considerable challenge is to coordinate these approaches for socially excluded localities.The Agency for Social Inclusion has been operating as an independent body extensively using blended financing through a series of national operational programmes until 2019 and is now going to be restructured and anchored to the Ministry for Regional Development. This will represent a critical challenge for its operability.
In terms of housing, the need for a national law on social/affordable housing in the context of rocketing prices of a failing free market has become a pressing issue, but no major step has been taken in this direction so far.
In order to ensure that urban development is balanced, competitive, sustainable, and fair, the well-functioning of public administration and related services is a sine qua non.